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See inside innovative UK salad nursery

State-of-the-Art Salad Growing Facilities

Recently, Elsoms Seeds had the pleasure of touring local salad nursery (one of the country’s largest), Hillgate Nurseries Ltd. During the tour, we witnessed their cutting-edge facilities that turn our seed, into salad blocks.

Hillgate Nurseries

Cutting-Edge Technology

The tour of Hillgate Nurseries revealed their highly automated machinery that transports salad seed and blocks around the nursery. We also observed their state-of-the-art irrigation and spraying system, which ensures that the crops receive the optimal amount of water and nutrients for growth. Watch the video above to see the high-tech machinery used to keep up with the intense demand for salad crops.

Challenges in the Industry

Despite the progress made in the industry, some challenges persist. For instance, Hillgate Nurseries is struggling to find sustainable alternatives to peat, which is harmful to the environment. Although they currently use peat, they are actively trialling experimental solutions to find a viable alternative.

Maintaining the machinery used in the salad-growing industry is another challenge due to the nature of the work involved. Consistent investment in high-quality cleaning equipment is required to keep the machinery in top condition.

Staying on top

Troy Barton carries out regular checks by walking between the trays to ensure that the salads are growing up to the high standards expected of them. Walking between the trays is like walking a tightrope for Troy, as he must be careful not to step on any of the plants themselves.

Fortunately, he carries these checks out so much that he doesn’t have to think twice as he strides between the plants.

Growing Varieties

Hillgate Nurseries grow a variety of salad crops, including Meriko – Chinese Cabbage and Bachata – Celery.

Meriko Chinese leaf salad variety being held in a field

Meriko is a Chinese Cabbage variety known for its vibrant green colour, compact head, and slightly shorter size compared to Pacifiko and Bilko. It is an ideal choice for both whole head consumption and processing. With a harvest window spanning from May to November, Meriko has a relatively short growing period of 58 days, making it a popular option for growers. It can be sown from January to the end of July, providing flexibility in planting schedules. With its excellent colour, compact head, and versatility in usage, Meriko is a favoured choice among Chinese leaf varieties for commercial and home gardening.

Bachata Celery salad Variety in a Field

Bachata Celery is a versatile and resilient variety perfect for early season planting. With its high level of bolt resistance, Bachata is a reliable choice for growers looking for a celery variety that can thrive in various conditions. Whether you’re planning to use it for processing or as a whole product, Bachata delivers exceptional performance. Plant it from April to August and enjoy a bountiful harvest from end June to end October, with a growing period of 80-89 days. With Bachata Celery, you can count on a robust and dependable crop that will meet your needs throughout the growing season.

Elsoms Seeds is happy to be associated with Hillgate Salad Nursery, who are making great strides in the salad-growing industry. Although challenges exist, opportunities for growth and innovation abound. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this dynamic industry.

In summary, the tour of Hillgate Nurseries revealed the impressive technological advancements in the salad-growing industry, alongside the challenges faced, including finding sustainable alternatives to harmful substances like peat. However, Hillgate Nurseries continue to lead the way in producing high-quality salad crops.

View our portfolio of salad varieties by clicking here